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Travel & Holiday Tips Northern Territory Australia


The Northern Territory is a huge and diverse region. The north, the ‘Top End’ of Australia, is subtropical, with such high rainfall in the rainy season that much of it is accessible only by air. The south of the Territory is an arid desert, known as the ‘Red Centre’.

The Northern Territory comprises waterfalls and looming gorges, arid red desert and staggering outcrops. It perhaps most epitomises the visitor's notion of the outback; it is Australia's Wild West, with adventure to be had on crocodile-spotting trips, safaris and wilderness 4-wheel drive tours.

Intriguing Darwin features much modern architecture as a result of the cyclone that devastated it in 1974, destroying over half the houses in the city. Today, it is attractively laid out and is one of the best places to experience multicultural Australia, especially given its indigenous population.

The Northern Territory has immense historical significance to the Aborigines that inhabit the state, representing nearly a quarter of its population. Much of the landscape is draped in 'dreamtime' legend, and Aboriginal guides can take visitors bush-walking or ‘bush tucker' tasting. It is necessary to obtain a permit before entering Aboriginal lands, including by car. These permits are not issued lightly, nor are they generally issued for tourist purposes. Some areas that have historic significance to the Aborigines are open to the public – for example, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Corroboree Rock near Alice Springs, and Ubirr Rock in Kakadu National Park. Visitors are welcome at these places, but due respect should be shown for the site and its historical significance.

Places of Interest


The territorial capital, Darwin, which was savaged by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve 1974, has been rebuilt and has grown over the years to become a modern, multicultural, provincial city. Darwin and the rest of the Top End have two distinct seasons. In the tropical summer from November to April, monsoon conditions mean late-afternoon thunderstorms, high humidity and heavy downpours. This is the green season when the waterfalls flow and the wildlife abounds. From May through to October is the ’dry’ season, with unlimited sunshine and balmy evenings. The wetlands begin to dry out, confining the bird and animal life to ever smaller areas. The Top End is the area to see lush tropical vegetation, either in Darwin’s Botanical Gardens, the Crocodylus Park just outside Darwin, or in the Territory’s various national parks. Also south of Darwin are the Howard Springs and Berry Springs nature parks, Territory Wildlife Park and the birds’ haven Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve. There are many good opportunities for fishing near the city, for example at Mindil Beach or Vestey’s Beach. The Tiwi Islands, comprising Bathurst Island and Melville Island, are Aboriginal islands rich in history and culture. The islands are a short flight from Darwin, but they are accessible only by organised one- or two-day tours.

The Red Centre

Alice Springs is located in what is almost the geographical centre of the continent. A pleasant little town, set in red desert country, it is a popular tourist resort and a base for exploring the wonders of the outback. There are many excellent hotels and motels, a casino, a variety of restaurants and varied sporting facilities, ranging from golf and tennis to hot-air ballooning and tandem parachuting.

The Royal Flying Doctor Base is open daily to the public (excluding public holidays) and the School of the Air is operational during the school term. There are also museums and preserved buildings which help the visitor to appreciate the history of this remote town. Not least among these are the Dreamtime Gallery and the Aboriginal Arts & Culture Centre. The Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, 3 km (2 miles) north of the town, is an historical reserve featuring original buildings, restored equipment and an illustrated display including early photographs, papers and documents. Anzac Hill War Memorial lies just behind Alice Springs and provides a panoramic view of the town and surrounding ranges.

The region around Alice Springs is pitted with colourful gorges, canyons, valley pools and awe-inspiring chasms. These include Standley Chasm, 57 km (35 miles) west of Alice, Glen Helen Gorge, 140 km (9 miles) west, Ormiston Gorge, 130 km (80 miles) west, Kings Canyon, 330 km (205 miles) southwest and N’Dhala Gorge, 96km (59 miles) east, which is also notable for its ancient rock engravings. Palm Valley lies around one hour 30 minutes' drive to the southwest and Rainbow Valley to the southeast on the edge of the Simpson Desert.

Château Hornsby, the Northern Territory’s only vineyard, is situated approximately 10 km (6 miles) from the town centre and is a venue for tastings, barbecues, and Aboriginal corroborees.

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